This questionnaire was developed to ascertain the views of walkers to the very significant growth in planning
applications and construction of Wind Factories within the UK and in particular a large number of upland areas in
The questionnaire results were analysed by SCSupport Ltd and we are now plesed to publish the consolidated results.
Some initial facts
The terminology Wind Factory is now taking over from Wind Farm but applies to the same concept.
The general size of the wind turbines now being planned has increased in all aspects of power generation, mast height and blade length. Applications are now being received for 3 MW units mast heights of 70 metres and blade lengths of 42 metres giving an overall height from base to tip of 112 metres.
Even with all the may applications now being received for wind factories the UK is unlikely to reach its declared target for renewable energy
resulting in pressure on more wind factories, nuclear generation and other forms of non carbon generating electricity.
Wind Farm Survey Results.
The response would have to be acknowledged as being disappointing and we would not feel sufficiently confident to use these consolidate results in any lobbying or formal response to consultation relating to Wind Farm generation. The results can only be taken as indicative of how walkers might respond.
The respondents were made up of 50% Scottish, 33% from other parts of the UK and the balance from Ireland. Over 80% came from the 30 to 59 years age group and they were predominantly male.
83% stated that they had been walking within 2 km of a wind farm installation but that none had gone to visit a visitor attraction wind farm so far. About a third thought they would in future make such a visit.
The next section looked at the respondents’ knowledge of wind farm generation and they had the following views:
Could turbines generate at all wind speeds above the minimum threshold, a third though they could, the balance thought they could not.
- Two thirds of the survey thought that it would be more expensive to generate electricity with wind power to that of fossil fuels
- The percentage of time wind turbines can generation was thought to be as follows:
- In the band up to 25% - 40%
- 26% to 50% - 20%
- 51% to 75% - 40%
The respondents also thought that there was a temperature threshold within which the turbines could generate. This created a slightly skewed distribution with only 7% thinking it would work at under 0 degrees centigrade and about 15% believing they could work above 25 degrees C. Every respondent thought they would operate in the 10 to 24 degree range and approx 85% believed they would operate in the 0 to 9 degree range.
Noise from the turbines was evaluated.
At a point of 0.5 km from the turbine the noise levels were though of as being as follows:
At a 1 Km distance:
- 60 dB(A) – 33%
- 35 dB(A) – 50%
- 20 dB(A) – 17%
The impact on walkers of turbine was assessed and this produced a range of reaction based on the distance from the closest mast.
- 60 dB(A) – 0%
- 35 dB(A) – 34%
- 20 dB(A) – 66%
Slightly over 15% indicated that they would be neutral in terms of walking in the area regardless of how close they were. In the distance up to 0.5 Km about 50% thought that they would be adversely influenced and would not want to return, while in the range 0.5 to 1 km the figure dropped to 33% thinking they would not return and that the experience would be adversely affected. When the route was over 5 km from the wind farm there was a belief by about a third of the respondents that this might indeed be an attraction to the walking experience.
The most concerning issues in reaching the above decisions varied quite significantly and some found it difficult to rank them in order of importance. The analysis would suggest however that the following were the consolidated rankings starting with the most important concern down to the least.
In terms of access from the area of the walk influenced by the wind turbines the unhappiness generated by temporary exclusion was most severe when it was related to exclusion based on strong winds, frosting on the blades and for reasons of maintenance with 80% claiming an exclusion of a matter of days would be unacceptable.
- Interruption of views
- Introduction of maintenance personnel and access roads
- Noise from turbines
- Connecting power lines
- Safety concerns
- Flicker / strobe effect of blades
The high wind exclusion attracted the greatest resentment with 20% suggesting they might never return to the area again if this occurred. There was a much greater tolerance to exclusions if it related to planned construction or decommissioning.
Finally close to 70% indicated that their views on a wind farm experience would be used to influence other walkers.
We would want to thank all who responded to the questionnaire.
Although the survey results have now been analysed and our commitment to respond fulfilled, we would not discourage anyone else from still completing the on-line questionnaire below. As wind factories/farms will remain a contentious issue for many years to come any fresh views would still be useful.